138 chapter 6: Health exams
When you examine a woman who is blind or cannot see well
For a blind woman, going to an unfamiliar place like a clinic can be
confusing. She does not know where things are or where to
go. Sometimes people treat blind women roughly or move
them around. This is not very respectful.
When you guide a blind woman, do not take hold of
her arm or hand. Many blind women rely on their hands
to “see,” by touching. Instead, offer her your arm and
let her hold your arm or rest her hand on yours. Tell her
where things are and where you are going. Then she will
learn how to get around the space better on her own and
will feel more comfortable during the exam.
When you examine a woman who is deaf or cannot hear well
For deaf women, going to a clinic can be very frustrating when no one there can
use sign language. Sometimes, a deaf woman will bring with her someone who can
hear, and who knows her sign language and can interpret
for her. If she does, make sure you look at the deaf woman
and not at her interpreter when you speak to her and when
she speaks to you. This includes when you listen to the
interpreter. Look only at the deaf woman. The interpreter
is there to help, but the deaf woman is the person who has
come to you to receive health care.
When you examine a woman who has trouble learning or understanding
Women who have trouble learning or understanding should
still get information about their health and should help
make decisions about their bodies. You may need to take
more time to explain things to a woman who has trouble
learning. Instead of just asking her if she understands, ask
her to tell you in her own words what she has learned.
I used to wait for disabled women to
ask me about pelvic or breast exams.
But most women with disabilities
are surprised to find out they can
have these exams, or they feel
embarrassed to talk about them.
Now I make sure to ask if they know
about the exams all women should
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007